The key to understanding Vladimir Putin is that he’s not bluffing

As a former Marine, one will learn a basic rule of conflict, which is that the most committed person generally wins.

Commitment trumps almost everything. It’s hard to explain if you’ve never been in a real fight, but trust me, it’s true.

Vladimir Putin is completely rational. This is not an endorsement of the man or his policies, it’s an observation.

Much like former Pres. George W. Bush, he tells you what he’s going to do and then does it.

The thing is that there are certain boundaries which an American president will not presumably pass. Pres. Obama has clearly telegraphed his boundaries, and they are quite a bit more circumscribed then Mr. Putin’s.

When push came to shove, Mr. Putin rolled his tanks across the border into Ukraine. He changed facts on the ground through the use of force in a blatant manner, thereby following through on the earlier implied threat of invasion.

Sun Tzu advised that there were many factors which predicted the outcome of battles and wars. Things like “righteousness of the cause,” and, “quality of leadership.”

He pointed out that a great general knows the outcome much in advance of the beginning of hostilities.

Now, Marines are not all generals (I was a lowly enlisted infantryman), but we do all know that the most committed man wins 9 times out of 10, irrespective of the theoretical view of arms and armaments, provisioning etc.

In this case, the United States military is clearly superior in many aspects to any other nation’s armed forces on the planet. Not only do we have far and away the biggest and best trained military, the entire force is combat certified.

However, the ability to do something is not the same as the willingness.

Pres. Obama is clearly a reluctant commander and has carefully circumscribed each and every one of his actions. He’s to be respected for his clarity and follow through.

That said, Pres. Putin is not so tightly encircled in his options, and he has again demonstrated his unequivocal willingness to go to the mat for his allies and interests.

Such demonstrations count for much in this world.



Time to check in on my 2014 predictions, see how they turned out.

In the spirit of accountability, a full 8 months into the year, let’s see how my 2014 predictions are turning out.

# 1 – “Gold will continue to decline. I predict a low point around 800.00 oz.I’m specifically looking for the silver:gold ratio to drop below the 40:1 level. It’s been in the low 60s for sometime now.”

Continue reading Time to check in on my 2014 predictions, see how they turned out.

Security is essential for political progress

The current administration has consistently been forthright in its view that long-term solutions in the Middle East (and elsewhere) must be political in nature and that the American military cannot deliver said solutions.

I agree.

However, I think that approach misses a larger point (which I understand to be roughly analogous to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs), in that basic security is essential before any of the higher order social functions, including political ones, can be undertaken.

Continue reading Security is essential for political progress

Following up on yesterday’s post

Yesterday’s post spawned some private feedback which made me realize that it could have been taken for a general statement about religion as opposed to a specific statement about an emerging state.

To be clear, I have no argument with Islam, per se. It’s foreign to me, so I don’t truly understand it, but I think any belief system can be taken to uncivil extremes of behavior.

Continue reading Following up on yesterday’s post

The meanderings of a simple mind